JOHANNESBURG – South Africa barred the Dalai Lama from a peace conference in Johannesburg this week, hoping to keep good relations with trading partner China but instead generating a storm of criticism.

Friday's peace conference was organized by South African soccer officials to highlight the first World Cup to be held in Africa, which South Africa will host in 2010.

But because the Dalai Lama isn't being allowed to attend, it is now being boycotted by fellow Nobel Peace prize winners retired Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president F.W. de Klerk as well as members of the Nobel Committee.

"It is disappointing that South Africa, which has received so much solidarity from the world, doesn't want to give that solidarity to others," Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad told The Associated Press in Oslo, referring to the decades-long fight against apartheid.

An eclectic mix of Nobel laureates, Hollywood celebrities and other dignitaries are coming to discuss issues ranging from combating racism to how sports can unite people and nations.

But Thabo Masebe, spokesman for President Kgalema Motlanthe, said a high-profile visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader would have distracted from the conference's focus.

"South Africa would have been the source of negative publicity about China," he said Monday. "We do value our relationship with China."

South Africa is China's largest trading partner on a continent in which China is heavily and increasingly involved.

Tamu Matose, a spokeswoman for Tutu, told the AP that Tutu would not attend "because of the Dalai Lama issue." Tutu was quoted Sunday as calling the barring "disgraceful."

"(South Africa) should admit anyone with a legitimate and peaceful interest and should not take political decisions on who should, and who should not, attend," de Klerk said Monday, announcing he also would skip the conference.

The Norwegian government said it "regrets" the South African decision, and was considering whether to withdraw.

However, the South African Communist Party backed the move, saying March was a particularly sensitive time for a visit.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of anti-government riots in Lhasa, Tibet's regional capital, and 50 years since the Dalai Lama escaped into exile in India after Chinese troops crushed a Tibetan uprising.

China claims Tibet as part of its territory, but many Tibetans say Chinese rule deprives them of religious freedom and autonomy. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibetan independence and fomenting anti-Chinese protests.

South Africa decided last month to refuse to issue an official invitation, without which, Masebe said, the Dalai Lama cannot visit.

Masebe said the spiritual leader had been welcomed twice previously in South Africa and would be welcome again in the future — but "not now, when the whole world is looking at South Africa."

Beijing, an ally when South Africa's now-governing African National Congress was a liberation movement, and Pretoria have diplomatic ties stretching back a decade and an economic relationship based on trade as well as aid.

China's exports to Africa last year rose 36.3 percent from 2007 to $50.8 billion, while imports of African goods rose 54 percent to $56 billion, according to customs data reported by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Critics say China's investment in and aid to Africa, ranging from building presidential palaces and sports stadiums to rail and road projects, aims to secure access to the continent's natural resources.

African governments, though, are eager for the funds and counting on continued Chinese investment despite the global economic meltdown.

Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said South Africa was under pressure from Beijing and its decision to bar the Dalai Lama was a business matter.

"South Africa is a newly emerging country and China is giving it considerable economic resources so it is understandable," he said Monday in Dharmsala, India. "Every country has to protect its economic and political interests."

Masebe insisted that his government was not bowing to pressure from China.

"We make our own decisions," he said.

Masebe said if conference organizers had talked with officials beforehand, they would have been advised to exclude the Dalai Lama and the controversy could have been avoided.

But Kjetil Siem, chief executive officer of South Africa's Premier Soccer League, said the Dalai Lama was invited in a routine way along with other Nobel laureates.

"When it comes to peace conferences ... it has nothing to do with the government," Siem said.

Siem said the conference was a chance to show what South Africa has accomplished. Soccer was once as segregated as the rest of South African society, with four race-based leagues. Today, the nation is proudly united behind the upcoming World Cup.

The controversy over the Dalai Lama shows the peace conference is "more needed than ever," Siem said.

By DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press Writer
___

Associated Press writers Ashwini Bhatia in Dharmsala and Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this report.

Views: 122

Replies to This Discussion

Gordon
.Peace dreamed in Tibet is far, it is sad reading, financial agreements speak louder than the freedom of a people


With all this, there are still those who think that China will abandon the Tibetan territory and grant independence to Tibet, as a result of events triggered from the March 10, when 500 monks marched in Lhasa to commemorate the 49 anniversary of the uprising where, in 1959, thousands of Tibetans, called the rumor of a Chinese plan to kidnap the Dalai Lama, surrounded his palace and proclaimed its independence. If the independence was not achieved at that time, much less it will be achieved in this time when the Chinese imperial expansion and the project is full steam.

Angola became the largest trading partner of China in Africa

Beijing, Oct 26 (Lusa) - Angola surpassed South Africa and became the largest trading partner of China in Africa, said Thursday that the Chinese vice minister of Commerce, advancing the Sino-Angolan relations exceed 7 , 95 billion euros (U.S. $ 21.4 billion) by the end of the year.

According to Wei Jianguo, in the first nine months of 2006, Angola was the largest Chinese trading partner in Africa, with bilateral trade exceeding $ 20 billion.

It was immediately ahead of South Africa, which recorded a bilateral trade exceeding U.S. $ 14.6 billion.
Brazil has partnered with China in the Brazilian
does not mean support not the Dalai Lama
We support the Dalai Lama
Gordon
.Peace dreamed in Tibet is far, it is sad reading, financial agreements speak louder than the freedom of a people


With all this, there are still those who think that China will abandon the Tibetan territory and grant independence to Tibet, as a result of events triggered from the March 10, when 500 monks marched in Lhasa to commemorate the 49 anniversary of the uprising where, in 1959, thousands of Tibetans, called the rumor of a Chinese plan to kidnap the Dalai Lama, surrounded his palace and proclaimed its independence. If the independence was not achieved at that time, much less it will be achieved in this time when the Chinese imperial expansion and the project is full steam.

Angola became the largest trading partner of China in Africa

Beijing, Oct 26 (Lusa) - Angola surpassed South Africa and became the largest trading partner of China in Africa, said Thursday that the Chinese vice minister of Commerce, advancing the Sino-Angolan relations exceed 7 , 95 billion euros (U.S. $ 21.4 billion) by the end of the year.

According to Wei Jianguo, in the first nine months of 2006, Angola was the largest Chinese trading partner in Africa, with bilateral trade exceeding $ 20 billion.

It was immediately ahead of South Africa, which recorded a bilateral trade exceeding U.S. $ 14.6 billion
South Africa gives the status of citizen black Chinese
A court in Pretoria, South Africa, decided this Wednesday that the Chinese living in the country will be black people.

That the protests are happening?

This is a historical question. China says that Tibet is part of its territory since the mid-13 century and should be under the command of Beijing.

Many Tibetans, however, have a different view of history. They claim that the Himalayan region was independent for many centuries and the Chinese domain was not always a constant.

Between 1911 and 1950, for example, Tibet has maintained the status of independent country until Mao Tse-tung led the Chinese Revolution and came to power in the country in 1949.

In 1963, it gained status of Autonomous Region and today has a government supported by China.

In 1989, the cause of independence of Tibet was known in the West after the massacre of demonstrators by the Chinese Army in the square of Heavenly Peace.

Many Tibetans want independence from the back, hence the protests.

What detonated the latest protests?

The demonstrations began on March 10, exactly 49 years after the Tibetans staged an uprising against Chinese power.

There were demonstrations in several countries and the monks of Drepung monastery, near the capital Lhasa, also joined the movement. The protests soon gained the membership of Tibetans.

Economic factors also play an important role. Many Tibetans say that a growing number of ethnic majority of Chinese immigrants have come to the region and to the best jobs.

They believe to be excluded from the benefits of economic progress enjoyed by other coastal provinces in China and they suffer from the effects of increasing inflation in the country.

The two sides will be able to resolve the differences?

The Chinese government maintains little dialogue with the Tibetan government in exile based in India. The talks never progressed, and probably should not proceed in the future - the gap between the two sides is immense.

China says that the Tibetans in exile, led by the Dalai Lama, are only interested in separating Tibet from the earth mother. The Dalai Lama said to want nothing more than the autonomy of the region.
The Democratic Party's candidate for the presidency of the United States, Barack Obama, sent a letter to the Dalai Lama supports the rights of the people of Tibet. " It was said that a spokesman for the Buddhist leader in exile in Dharmashala, India. "I take this opportunity to express my deepest respect and my support for his mission and his people at this time as critical
.23 Mar 2009 South Africa denies visa to Dalai Lama. Crisis
Brazil supports the Dalai Lama
Freedom for Tibet
I'm embarrassed to see that our Government, having fought for so long for "Peace" is showing its true African colours by allowing so called economics and greed to override a virtuous mans right to express himself by joining other pacifists and well minded people...... Africa will one day be a province of China
South Africa: Government did not invite Dalai Lama. World peace conference will be held next Friday. There have been protests.

The government spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa, who confirmed the decision of the executive, stated that the Dalai Lama was not invited to be well the interests of the country.

Asked about the decision to keep the Dalai Lama was absent from the summit due to pressure from the government of China, Mamoepa replied that the decision is independent and sovereign.

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the newspaper "Sunday Independent" who wrote to President Kgalema Motlanthe seeking explanations on the government refused to invite the Dalai Lama.

"If the visa [of entry in South Africa] is denied His Holiness I did not take part in the conference, Tutu explained to the newspaper.

"There will be peace conference '

For the leader of the Independent Democrats (ID in the parliamentary opposition), protested Sunday against the decision of the executive of the ANC, saying that "without the Dalai Lama, the conference could not draw up the peace conference.

The decision not to authorize the presence in the country's spiritual leader of Tibet is "hypocritical" and "a denial of other people the same rights that are devoted to South African people by their Constitution.
This is disgraceful. It cannot be called a Peace Conference when they are disallowing the attendance of one of the most peaceful men on the planet. The South African government should bury their financial interests and work towards a peaceful world, as should the Chinese government. Shame on the both of them
Its a shame. This is how China control the freedom of expression. Red wave is intruding everywhere.
I agree with this interpretation, politics in my country are now in this wave, creating separation among all in order to have more power and stay in control for many years, and all is done in name of justice and poverty.
Tutu to boycott conference

"If His Holiness's visa is refused, then I won't take part in the coming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference," Tutu said.

"I will condemn government's behaviour as disgraceful, in line with our country's abysmal record at the United Nations Security Council, a total betrayal of our struggle history.

"We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure. I feel deeply distressed and ashamed."

The Dalai Lama had been invited by his three fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, former presidents Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk, and Tutu.

Dave Steward, spokesperson for the FW De Klerk Foundation, told the Sunday Independent: "There is no reason why the Dalai Lama, who is recognised as a champion of peace, and as a Nobel Laureate, should be denied entry into South Africa.

"South Africa should not allow any country to dictate who it should and should not allow to visit."
On local Radio 5 this morning the announcer made the comment that we have become China's "Bitch" and that both Nelson Mandela and F.W de Klerk (both former Nobel Peace winners) will most likely no longer be attending the conference in protest. What more can we expect from a government whose encumbent President is about to stand trial for major corruption charges which in all likelyhood will be swept under the carpet. We are about to become the laughing stock of Africa again !!!! How sad that this could all be avoided if there were statesmen with pride... Thats about it .....
This decision talks more about the politicians that are in "power" than any thing else yet I believe that, the more situations like this happen, the more we will talk about peace, and the global counsciouness will raise. The Dalai Lama represents us all in the planet of LOVE AND COMPASSION we will get there no matter what, our soul will win as Mandela once said, that what we are really afraid of is of our light!

WE ARE PEACE
WE ARE COMPASSION
It is shameful that given the history and suffering of the South African peoples the current government of South Africa has conveniently forgotten it's suffering and history and to say that the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama would distract the focus of the conference is not only downright disgraceful it is a lie because what the Dalai Lama is asking is for peace and peace only comes when oppression and aggression are removed. South African is going to be another economic slave of China like India. China is burrowing her economic roots in every country with cheap quality products and making everyone dependent on them just like Bill Gates did with Microsoft...finally he had to bow down as well and end up with micro and soft image....shame on you South Africa...

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